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At my day job, I basically talk to customers all day about rifle scopes and various types of optics related questions. One really common question that I routinely hear and am asked is the what is the best long range scope on the market?
Now the answer to this question is not an easy one and takes some explaining as it involves a number of factors such as:
- A clear definition of the term “long range”
- The specific type of long range shooting (not all long range shooting is the same)
- What constitutes “best”
So lets look at each one of these factors individually:
What does the term long range mean?
Obviously, if you asked 10 shooters to define the term and distances of long range shooting, you’d get 10 different answers as each person’s perception of long range is different.
For some people, a football field (100 yards) is/would be considered long range, while for others, long range may mean over 1000 yards.
For most people, the answer lies somewhere in between. For the purposes of this article, we are going to define “long range shooting” as shooting at targets from distances of 700 yards and beyond.
What type of Long Range Shooting?
Most shooters and non-shooters seem to somewhat lump all long range shooting into the same category where it’s precision based shooting at various targets.
The truth is, there are a number of different types of long range shooting. Those include:
- Precision Rifle Shooting (PRS)
- National Rifle League (NRL)
- F Class type long range shooting at paper targets for scoring
- Situational based long range shooting where the shooter has to move through a course and shoot at human sized targets using various objects as a rest.
And then there’s long range hunting, which is a different type of long range shooting altogether.
What does “best” really mean?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has a number of definitions for “best” and they depend on how the word is used:
- As a superlative: “excelling all others” or “most productive of good : offering or producing the greatest advantage, utility, or satisfaction.”
- As an adverb: “to greatest advantage” or “as well, skillfully, or accurately as.”
- As a noun: “one that is best” or “the greatest degree of good or excellence.”
In the context of this article, best is used as a superlative to mean better than all the others.
That being said, choosing or recommending the best long range rifle scope on the market is totally subjective and completely based on one’s opinions and experiences.
If you look at the most popular scope brand used by PRL and NRL shooters, the results would be (in no particular order):
- Schmidt & Bender
In addition to factors that I mentioned above, when I’m evaluating a scope, I also look at factors such as:
- Glass quality
- Optical clarity
- Long Distance reticle options
So, what is the best long range scope on the market?
First, I don’t think I can identify just a single scope model as being the best on the the market for long range shooting, but I am comfortable identifying what I think is the best brand of rifle scopes for long range shooting.
Taking all the factors that I’ve already mentioned into account, I’d have to say that Nightforce offers the “best” long range scopes currently on the market, with their ATACR series being the optimal line.
Now there are scope brands and models on the market that cost more than even the most expensive Nightforce model, but I don’t personally think you can get more bang for your buck than a Nightforce scope.
Kahles, along with Schmidt & Bender, probably come in a close second, in my humble opinion, but it’s hard to beat Nightforce for their clarity. quality and durability, compared to the cost.
Here are my personal favorites as far as Nightforce long range scope models go:
I’ve been working in the firearms and sporting optics industry for over 20 years, with a personal and professional interest in all things related to rifle scopes, Through a combination of work experience, formal training, and personal experiences, I have extensive experience mounting, testing, and evaluating different rifle scope models across most major optical brands.